California Assembly forms committee to determine Orange County oil spill blame

Politics

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A new state Assembly committee will be tasked with figuring out who was responsible for the massive oil spill off the Southern California coast.

The Select Committee for the Orange County Spill was announced Monday in Huntington Beach by California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

After requesting the effort, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, will be leading the committee throughout the next legislative session.

As crews in hazardous material gear continued their work to clean up some of the 140,000 gallons of crude that spilled near Talbert Marsh.

State and local leaders stressed that the committee will also be looking at how California’s laws might need to be upgraded to avoid oil spill crises in the future.

A pipeline belonging to Beta Operating Company failed with the first leak reported just over a week ago.

The 13-inch line appears to have been dragged along the ocean floor after losing its concrete casing, perhaps being hit by a tanker’s anchor.

“This is an important step to ensure we get to the bottom of this tragedy and to ensure that we have overnight and accountability at the state level. As you well know there are so many unanswered questions about this disaster,” Petrie-Norris said. “Who knew what when? Why was the leaked undetected for so long? Why was there such a protracted delay from initial reports of a sheen to a response?”

Though the environmental impacts are currently thought to be less severe than initial estimates, tar balls associated with this situation have been spotted 50 miles away from the spill site.

There’s also concern about crude oil complements lingering beneath the surface of the ocean and affecting tiny organisms that are ingested by fish, which are later eaten by birds. Those same components can smother deep water corals and kill a critical food source for blue whales.

With just a week out from the spill, there’s no way to tell what the long-term impact on animal or plant life may be.

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